Chess is a Difficult Game

Chess is a Difficult Game

Oct 27, 2013, 12:47 PM |

In the first round of DHLC's qualifier tournament, I was paired with a lower rated opponent, but they had played only two standard games till our encounter, so I didn't exactly know what to expect.

On the 2nd round, the rating difference was about the same, but this time, my opponent had played lots of games before, so I did know it was a more or less accurate indicator of their level. I briefly analyzed their past games, and thought it would be an easy game for me. All I would have to do would be not to hang anything, and collect the goods when my opponent did, and they did in fact hang material frequently before. Well, things didn't quite go the way I hoped. It was a tense struggle until the end.

In my brief analysis of my opponent's past games, I realized they were an e4 player and the pirc was the black defense that they had least encountered, so I decided to go for the pirc and looked at some mainlines to get an idea about various plans for development.

Here's the game with my detailed patzer annotations powered with a computer engine:

There's a single best move for black here. Can you find it?


Before playing this move, I think I spent around 15 minutes trying to figure out a way to put an end to the annoying threats on f7, and I believe I came up with a nice tactical solution. Have I just hung my knight? Try to calculate the crucial line yourself.



1) Well, my first observation would be that the game went much harder than I expected, given the rating difference. When I was playing actively on FICS with slow games a few years ago, I had broken the 1900 barrier (see my blog post about it here, oh the memories!), and was probably playing somewhere close to expert level. The thing is, I had a rock-solid opening repertoire back then. I had a very strict mainline for almost everything and I knew what to do for the first 8-9 moves of every game.

Then I threw that repertoire into the bin forever and after unsuccessfully playing around with the idea of adopting Kramnik's full repertoire, I finally decided I wanted to have the patzer equivalent of Carlsen's or Ivanchuk's approach to openings, that is, play any opening that would bring a playable position. This desire strongly continues: I want to be able to say at the start of the game, "Hey, you know what, today I feel like playing the Taimanov and I'll just see what happens."

I think I have severely underestimated the weakening impact this has made on my level, especially with the black pieces. I do realize it is going to be an extremely slow build up, but I don't want to give up. I'll gradually get the hang of more and more openings, that is, relative to my level.

2) Secondly, chess is a really difficult game. I just made a few slips in the opening and was simply left with this horrible looking back rank full of undeveloped pieces. I suffered for almost the entire middlegame. In every game, no matter what rating your opponent has, you have to work hard and do your best.

3) Thirdly, something to be happy about: In the right moment, that is, at move 28, I did spend a lot of energy and time, trying to find a way out, and I came up with a nice tactical solution to my problems. I feel proud of that move, 28...Ne5. Those kinds of moves are why I have been training tactics and calculation for years.


So, that's all for this week. I'd like to thank my opponent for the game. Hope this was instructive and interesting for all. Any feedback is appreciated. Good chess and good week to everyone.